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What Should I Know As a New Father?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 23, 2024
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If you’re going to be a new father, you have plenty of things to learn, and lots of ways to get involved in the process of raising kids. Gone are the days when dad paced the floor of hospital waiting rooms instead of being present for the birth of their child, and disciplined only occasionally while mom did most of the work. The modern father has the opportunity to be much more active in the raising of his children, which psychological studies repeatedly show is of great benefit to children.

While your partner is pregnant, you can start preparing to be a new father. There are two important ways to contribute in this early stage of fatherhood. The first way is to learn about parenting. Read the books your partner is reading, like What to Expect When You’re Expecting, and read some books about baby care, like William Sears’ The Baby Book which spends a lot of time talking about how fathers can be supportive and involved from the get go. If you’ve never taken care of a baby before, it can help to attend some parenting classes that will teach you basics like how to take a temperature, how to change a diaper, and how to burp a baby.

As a new father, when your baby is first born, one of the most vital jobs you have is to take very good of your baby’s mom. Especially if mom is breastfeeding, she needs an environment that is totally supportive to minimize stress and help keep milk supply up. Take over most normal chores and also some of the new baby chores. You can’t nurse, but you can burp a baby, cuddle it, and change some of the diapers. If mom isn’t planning on breastfeeding, both parents can feed the new baby in turns. Early experiences where you are physically close to your baby will help you bond with the baby and establish a pattern of care that can serve your parent-child relationship for life.

Note that some new moms tend to be very critical of new dads. If your partner is already pretty critical of how you do basic household things, you should discuss this before baby arrives. New fathers often feel anxiety about doing things right, and a great deal of criticism can discourage them from staying involved.

Try to deflect criticism of being a new father, providing you’re not doing anything to harm the baby or stress the mother, and stay involved rather than opting out. This is your baby too, and you should have the right to be a fully involved parent from the beginning. If this becomes a point of contention between you and your partner, seek some counseling to help work out these issues.

A new father should know that parenting can be joyful but also very stressful. Both new parents are worried about how they’re doing, and when a baby cries for hours at a time, or when things seem very tense it can feel like you’ll never get the hang of parenting. It tends to be more stressful for the father who is less involved and only occasionally inserts himself in the process. If you are part of a team that comforts your baby, holds the baby all the time, and cares for his/her basic needs, your confidence will grow, and you’ll learn that stressful times tend to be temporary.

These early experiences of being with your child regularly are the glue of a parenting bond. You have an opportunity to really know your children by spending lots of time with them from the moment they arrive. Don’t miss out on this experience, which can enrich your life and the lives of your children.

PublicPeople is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a PublicPeople contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon317911 — On Feb 04, 2013

Where are other pages that I can show to my girlfriend's mother to show the need to be around my child during the first few months. She doesn't want me to live at the house where my girlfriend will move into on an account of it's not big enough for me to be here either, any and all help would be great. I am preparing a written testimony of my "fight" to present to her. She was okay with me moving in, but now she isn't anymore and I am absolutely livid.

By anon185174 — On Jun 10, 2011

I think something a new father should realize is that his time will not be his own for a number of years. Babies wait for no one, which means sleeping schedules will be affected and a midnight store run for supplies may become a common thing.

If the baby has a medical emergency during the father's work hours, work may stop being a priority. Time spent in front of a television or in a hobby shop may become babysitting time while Mom takes a break or runs errands.

New fathers should also know that mistakes will be made. A parent who fails to address a crying child's needs promptly is not causing permanent and irreversible harm. Very few parents go through an entire day without forgetting to do at least one thing for their baby. Stressing out over minor accidents or forgotten tasks will only make parenting harder than it needs to be.

By SteamLouis — On Feb 18, 2011

One of my best friends became a father recently. I got a couple of books for him so he can prepare. One was "The new father: A dad's guide to the first year" and the other was "The expectant father: Facts, tips and advice for Dads-to-Be." I don't have children of my own and it was my friend's first baby as well so I found these books by advice.

I think women are more inclined to study up on baby care than men are. But I know so many couples nowadays, where the father takes care of the baby while the mother works. Books can be a nice initial stage to get them ready for the role. It's also good to learn the correct way of doing things too. There are some things my parents did when they raised me that I just know I won't do when I have a baby.

By fify — On Feb 17, 2011

I heard on TV about a study that was done to compare moms and dads' emotions about their babies. The study showed that a mother who has given birth recently experiences a great amount of anxiety, possibly because she is worried about how she will take care of the new born. New fathers on the other hand, did not experience anxiety or really any new emotions after having a baby. Experts continued watching these parents as the baby grew. For some couples, the mother took care of the baby completely and for others, both the mother and father were equally engaged in baby care. The interesting bit was that men who took care of their baby also started developing emotions like anxiety similar to the mother. Men who did not help take care of the baby still did not experience any new emotions. Scientists who did this study made the conclusion that men don't really become "fathers" until they engage in baby care. So it is absolutely true that sharing the work when raising a baby forms a bond with the baby that men will not experience otherwise.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a PublicPeople contributor, Tricia...
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